Foods for Students as count-down to Leaving Cert begins

Posted by Gill O'Shea4th June 2021

A healthy diet can help counter the impact of exam stress by shoring up the immune system and lowering blood pressure. 

So here are my top Foods during this stressful time: 

  1. Porridge and Cereals

    All carbohydrates prompt the brain to make more serotonin. For a steady supply of this feel-good chemical, it’s best to eat complex carbohydrates, which take longer to digest. Good choices include whole-grain breads, pastas, and breakfast cereals, and porridge oats which all help stabilise blood sugar levels.
  2. Oranges 

    Studies suggest that Oranges which are high in Vitamin C can curb levels of stress hormones while strengthening the immune system. In one study of people with high blood pressure, blood pressure and levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) returned to normal more quickly when people took vitamin C before a stressful task.
  3. Spinach

    Too little magnesium may trigger headaches and fatigue, compounding the effects of stress. One cup of spinach helps you stock back up on magnesium. Other green, leafy vegetables are good magnesium sources. Or try some cooked soybeans or a fillet of salmon, also high in magnesium.
  4. Nuts and Seeds

    Eating a handful of pistachios, walnuts, or almonds every day may help lower your cholesterol, ease inflammation in your heart’s arteries, make diabetes less likely, and protect you against the effects of stress. Almonds are chock-full of helpful vitamins: vitamin E to bolster the immune system, plus B vitamins, which may make you more resilient during bouts of stress or depression.
  5. Fish

    To keep stress in check, make friends with naturally fatty fish. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish such as salmon and tuna, can prevent surges in stress hormones .
  6. Avocados

    One of the best ways to reduce high blood pressure is to get enough potassium, and half an avocado has more potassium than a medium-sized banana. A little bit of guacamole, made from avocado, might be a good choice when stress has you craving a high-fat treat.
  7. Raw Vegetables

    Crunchy raw vegetables can help ease stress in a purely mechanical way. Munching celery or carrot sticks helps release a clenched jaw, and that can ward off tension.
  8. Milk

    A bedtime stress busting glass of warm milk. Research shows that calcium eases anxiety and mood swings.


When Breakfast is skipped, blood sugar levels drop, making it harder to concentrate and perform to your best ability. By eating a healthy breakfast you can supply your brain with fuel to think properly and boost energy levels.

Here are some of my favourite Breakfast Options for exam times:

  • Fresh fruit with yoghurt
  • Overnight oats with chia seeds and dried cranberries
  • Fresh Smoothies
  • Breakfast Bars
  • Poached eggs with spinach on toast
  • Porridge with raspberries and seeds
  • Banana and blueberry pancakes